Vale David Turnbull

David Turnbull (City of Whittlesea) 207133_01

By Laura Michell

Whittlesea council has paid tribute to former chief executive David Turnbull, who died following a battle with cancer.

Mr Turnbull joined Whittlesea council in 1994 as planning and development director. He held the role until 2007, when he was appointed chief executive. Mr Turnbull left the council in 2016.

He was most recently chief executive of Mitchell Shire Council.

Whittlesea council’s strategic planning and economic development manager, George Saisanas, who is a long-term friend and colleague of Mr Turnbull’s, said it was hard to imagine anyone who made a greater contribution to the City of Whittlesea.

He described Mr Turnbull as a “towering figure” who “inspired and influenced so many people.”

“The legacy David left on the organisation and for the community is significant even today, nearly four years after he left in April 2016,” Mr Saisanas said.

“He was a CEO held in the deepest respect by his staff and community for being a driving force behind so many achievements.

“We have lost a great human being, a great man, a great leader, a great mentor and a great friend.”

Mr Saisanas said one of Mr Turnbull’s major legacies was pioneering local government advocacy, setting up the Interface Group fo Councils and the National Growth Areas Alliance.

He said Mr Turnbull also lobbied hard for dedicated funding to assist growth areas councils to deliver the services and infrastructure their communities needed, resulting in the Interface Growth Fund.

Mr Saisanas said the Quarry Hills Parkland project was Mr Turnbull’s “crowning achievement and legacy”, while other highlights from his time at Whittlesea include the setting aside of the Cooper Street Employment Precinct which has become a state significant employment precinct; protection of River Red Gums as an iconic environmental and landscape feature of the municipality; and the development and implementation of the Epping Central and Plenty Valley Activity Centres.

“As a leader, he will also be remembered for his constant guiding and calming influence, even in times of crisis,” he said.

“In response to the 2009 bushfires, David demonstrated leadership of the highest order during what is the single biggest event to ever impact om the City of Whittlesea. It was a challenging times for David but one which the city and our residents will be forever grateful.”

Whittlesea council said Mr Turnbull played a pivotal role in shaping the municipality.

“David was a local government colleague who I have known over many years. I greatly admired his intellect, his humanity and his calm and considered approach no matter what the issue,” council administrator Lydia Wilson said.

“He has left a remarkable legacy of leadership and achievement and will be greatly missed by all.“

Mr Turnbull is survived by his wife Suzanne and his children, Tess, Tom, Alice and Angus.

His family will hold a private ceremony for David tomorrow, with a public memorial service to be held at the Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre, later this year.

Whittlesea council is collecting written tributes to compile into a tributes book to give to Mr Turnbull’s family.

Tributes can be emailed to